Huntley beat DeKalb 3-1 in the Class 3A DeKalb Regional final last year, and they beat the Barbs 3-1 on Saturday.
The Barbs will likely face Huntley in the regional final once again this year, but that doesn't necessarily mean things look bleak for DeKalb's playoff hopes. The Barbs weren't completely overmatched on Saturday, when the match was tied, 1-1, at the half after Huntley scored on an own goal.
“Going into half, after 40 minutes, we felt really good about where we were at. I thought we did a good job of limiting their chances,” McIntosh said. “I thought we were in a real good spot. We just did not come out in the second half with the same intensity Huntley did. They stepped up their game a little bit, we didn't step up ours.”
The loss will likely mean that DeKalb will be the second-ranked team in the four-team regional, but the teams will most likely meet on the Barbs' home turf in late October.
The Barbs play a schedule full of Class 2A teams in the Northern Illinois Big 12. Because they saw exactly what Huntley brings to the table, they'll be better equipped to break through and win a regional title this year.
“We felt that we definitely have some things that Huntley showed us that we need to work on, so that was a positive experience,” McIntosh said. “We're quite capable of fixing some of the things that we were deficient in on Saturday.
Sycamore game plan thrown out at DeKalb: Staying in a defensive, compact shape can be crucial for teams attempting to beat a more skilled, more athletic opponent. That's exactly what Sycamore wanted to do in its game against DeKalb last week.
But the Barbs scored two quick goals, and that game plan was ripped to shreds early.
“We got it so built up in our head that we had to back so far off that we were so far back on our heels, and started swinging a little bit,” coach Dave Lichamer said. “Whatever we had developed as far as our strategy goes had to shift because we let those two early goals in.”
The two teams meet again on Oct. 10, and the Spartans will have another chance to try to hold off the Barbs and possibly nab a counter-attack goal.
“Going down real quick 2-0 like that hurts any team, because when we wanted to try and keep compact, it forces us to spread out a little bit more to try and get something going up the field,” Lichamer said. “We'll see when the next time comes around how we can make some of those adjustments of shifting some of the personnel around two.”
VIEWS: Adding linesmen an important move for NI Big 12
The Northern Illinois Big 12 moved from a two-man referee system this year to a three-man crew, meaning one referee mans the middle of the field and two man the sidelines, which is a big deal.
The most important responsibility of an assistant referee is to monitor whether a given team is offside. In a two-man system, teams trying to execute an offside trap, when the back line steps up in unison to try to draw an opposing forward offside, is especially risky, because the referees are too far away from the play to make the call with precision.
The rule also effects the offensive side of the ball, because forwards who know how to perfectly time their runs will be called offside erroneously less often.
“Some of the teams that like to push up, Morris likes to push up to try to play the offsides trap, I think that benefits the teams that do want to play that offsides trap,” McIntosh said. “But I think it really benefits that teams that really want to run in behind them.”
McIntosh thinks the officiating change affects his team more offensively than defensively. While the Barbs don't stress using an offside trap, they have speedy forwards who are able to burst in behind defenders without being in an offside position.
“I think more so it helps us offensively than defensively because with the speed that we have, particularly this year, we get behind the other team's back lines quite a bit, and when you have a linesman whose direct responsibility is to look for offsides, I think it gives an offensive team an advantage,” McIntosh said.
No matter how it affects each team, the rule change in the NI Big 12 is a good thing. During the post-season, all games use three-man officiating systems, so Sycamore, Kaneland and DeKalb will all have more experience playing with the ideal amount of officials than they did last year.
• Anthony Zilis is contributor for the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gavin Eberly, Indian Creek, midfielder/forward, senior
Eberly was Indian Creek's leading returning goalscorer with three goals last year, and he almost equalled that total in Thursday's 5-2 win over Hiawatha, when he scored two goals and assisted on another.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR...
Kaneland at Sycamore, 4:30 p.m. today
The two area rivals will meet for the first time this season, when Sycamore will try to earn its first win in Northern Illinois Big 12 East play.
DeKalb at Kaneland, 4:30 p.m. Thursday
The Barbs showed off their speed in a 3-1 win in the conference opener a few weeks ago. Now, the Knights will see what they've learned in the last few weeks.
1. DeKalb (8-2, 3-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) – The Barbs won two in conference, and lost to possible playoff foe Huntley on Saturday.
2. Genoa-Kingston (8-5-1, 4-2-1 Big Northern Conference) – The Cogs went 2-1 in a successful week, this past week.
3. Kaneland (4-4-3, 1-1-2 NI Big 12 East) – The Knights beat Rochelle for their first conference win last week.
4. Hinckley-Big Rock (12-3-1, 5-2 Little Ten Conference) – The revamped Royals have been strong despite a few slips in LTC play.
5. Sycamore (1-10-1, 0-2-1 NI Big 12 East) – The Spartans will go for their first conference win when they play Yorkville this week.
6. Indian Creek (3-10-1, 2-4 LTC) – The Timberwolves picked up a big conference win over Hiawatha on Thursday.
7. Hiawatha (0-10, 0-7 LTC) – The Hawks are working on learning to play with almost a completely new team this year.